Villagers in northern zone have proposed the need for establishing a social audit a tool that would assist the office of the Controller Auditor General (CAG) in improving its daily activities, when auditing public finances in community-based projects.
Villagers, local government officials and clerics expressed interest in having such a tool established within their localities, saying it would help to address issues related to swindling public finances by some unscrupulous public officials.
“The community-owned tool will contribute towards boosting socio-economic development within the localities as projects will be implemented in line with specified standards,” said Julius Mbise, Kikue Ward Executive Officer.
He said that the move will also address the ongoing trend where some public officials were untruthful by ‘cooking’ data when writing final reports of particular projects.
“This is very unfair, and we need people at the grassroots level to be given important tools that will make them be able to carry-out auditing activities within their localities,” said Pastor Adilistefa Mbwambo.
Mbwambo said the problem is serious at the grassroots level as people’s awareness is limited, while public officials and civic leaders use ignorance of local communities to cheat and swindles public resources.
Mhina Kombo, the acting assistant auditor general for central zone, the chief guest, said it was true that public officials in Tanzania were adept at ‘cooking’ reports. “You may find a report about the ratio of students and number of books in a particular school shows that one book is used by four students (1:4), but when you go the classroom the ratio is (1:13).”
Establishing social audit will be ideal towards reducing such problems at the local level, as the office of CAG cannot be everywhere across the country, he further stated.
Local communities need to work with civil society organizations (CSOs) in carrying out such audits in their localities, he affirmed.
In some countries, CSOs have managed to put in place social audit and it has proved to be effective, contributing to addressing some of the challenges facing the public sector.
“It is also high time for local communities to report to responsible authorities on anything which seems to go wrong in their respective areas. This is possible as these people sometimes act as watchdogs to what is going on within their social settings,” the official added.